05.10.2018

Culinary Alchemy In Denmark

The Alchemist in Copenhagen will push your boundaries in all the right (and questionable) ways

  • Culinary Alchemy In Denmark
  • Culinary Alchemy In Denmark
  • Culinary Alchemy In Denmark
  • Culinary Alchemy In Denmark

The Alchemist will be soon reopening in its new location: the Refshaleøen peninsula alongside other culinary luminaries like Noma and Amass. These restaurants are New Nordic icons - embracing native ingredients and traditional practices in a modern way, resulting in impeccable fine dining experiences. While fine dining does contain an experimental element, the term avant-garde probably doesn’t come to mind when thinking about New Nordic cuisine. While the shocking dishes (more on this later) can be difficult to look past, The Alchemist does have the underpinnings of the New Nordic spirit. From insects to organs (that would otherwise likely have gone to waste), the surprise menu sounds completely bizarre out of context, but is actually very refined.
 
Dining at The Alchemist consists of 45 courses falling into 8 different categories (fruit and vegetables, seafood, fish, guts, meat, cheese, dessert, and petit four). Yes, there is a method behind the madness: each of the 45 courses is inspired by the 45 elements that alchemists would use when trying to produce gold. Even though the restaurant is making a statement with their food, taste always comes first.
 
As a molecular gastronomist, Head Chef Rasmus Munk expertly experiments with all kinds of foods that he finds interesting, like part of animals that would ordinarily be thrown away. Woodlice, meal worms, chicken feet, and ants may very well also make an appearance, but in the most thoughtful way. The dishes aren’t all so off putting, though. There are plenty of edible flowers, edible paints and a canvas to get your Bob Ross on, fresh vegetables, citrus and, (thank goodness), chocolate and mini donuts, to set your mind at ease. To be honest, it’s not so much the ingredients that are bothersome as it is the presentation, but this is all part of the fun- when was the last time you had a meal that challenged your palate and your mind?
 
The menu changes often and utilizes classic Nordic ingredients such as turbot, langoustine and raw danish milk, just to name a few. Rasmus Munk calls his approach “Holistic Cuisine” as the focus is on all aspects of the meal. Think of the meal as a show and each of the categories as acts. But as you can see, the ethos of the meal extends beyond the food itself. Rasmus’s personal favorite dish is Ashtray which was inspired by his late grandmother’s favorite food: a Danish dish called Burning Love (mashed potatoes, bacon and generous amounts of butter). Rasmus’s version is very intricate: king crab, potato foam, and a few other chemistry lab adapted vegetables that have been styled to look like a pile of cigarette ash. In his own words, Rasmus says, “the Ashtray looks like an ashtray and tastes like Burning Love. It’s comfort food telling you to stay off the cigarettes - I love that!”
 
Calling this level of detail a labor of love is an understatement. Rasmus Munk feels that The Alchemist has only realized 10% of its potential at its old location in Århusgade. How can they sustain so many involved and intricate dishes as they expand into a 10,000 square foot location? Munk says “I simply love what I do, and I find immense pleasure in giving guests a unique culinary experience every single night.”
 
Completely absorbing, though provoking, and thoughtfully created by an innovative molecular chef with experience working at Noma, Geranium, and The Fat Duck who will tell you stories about his life and travels while you dine- The Alchemist will be one of the most memorable (and delicious) experiences of your life.
 

Author : Veda Teffner

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